Scholarly Work - Earth Sciences

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    A framework to link climate change, food security, and migration: unpacking the agricultural pathway
    (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2024-03) Tuholske, Cascade; Di Landro, Maria Agustina; Anderson, Weston; van Duijne, Robbin Jan; de Sherbinin, Alex
    Researchers have long hypothesized linkages between climate change, food security, and migration in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). One such hypothesis is the “agricultural pathway,” which postulates that negative climate change impacts on food production harm livelihoods, which triggers rural out-migration, internally or abroad. Migration is thus an adaptation to cope with the impacts of climate change and bolster livelihoods. Recent evidence suggests that the agriculture pathway is a plausible mechanism to explain climate-related migration. But direct causal connections from climate impacts on food production to livelihood loss to rural out-migration have yet to be fully established. To guide future research on the climate-food-migration nexus, we present a conceptual framework that outlines the components and linkages underpinning the agricultural pathway in LMICs. We build on established environmental-migration conceptual frameworks that have informed empirical research and deepened our understanding of complex human-environmental systems. First, we provide an overview of the conceptual framework and its connection to the agricultural pathway hypothesis in the climate mobility literature. We then outline the primary components and linkages of the conceptual framework as they pertain to LMIC contexts, highlighting current research gaps and challenges relating to the agricultural pathway. Last, we discuss possible future research directions for the climate-food-migration nexus. By highlighting the complex, multiscale, interconnected linkages that underpin the agricultural pathway, our framework unpacks the multiple causal connections that currently lie hidden in the agricultural pathway hypothesis.
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    Hazardous heat exposure among incarcerated people in the United States
    (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2024-03) Tuholske, Cascade; Lynch, Victoria D.; Spriggs, Raenita; Ahn, Yoonjung; Raymond, Colin; Nigra, Anne E.; Parks, Robbie M.
    Climate change is predicted to increase the frequency of potentially hazardous heat conditions across the United States, putting the incarcerated population of 2 million at risk for heat-related health conditions. We evaluate the exposure to potentially hazardous heat for 4,078 continental US carceral facilities during 1982–2020. Results show that the number of hot days per year increased during 1982–2020 for 1,739 carceral facilities, primarily located in the southern United States. State-run carceral facilities in Texas and Florida accounted for 52% of total exposure, despite holding 12% of all incarcerated people. This highlights the urgency for enhanced infrastructure, health system interventions and treatment of incarcerated people, especially under climate change.
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    The coevolution of rostral keratin and tooth distribution in dinosaurs
    (The Royal Society, 2024-01) Aguilar-Pedrayes, Isaura; Gardner, Jacob D.; Organ, Chris L.
    Teeth evolved early in vertebrate evolution, and their morphology reflects important specializations in diet and ecology among species. The toothless jaws (edentulism) in extant birds likely coevolved with beak keratin, which functionally replaced teeth. However, extinct dinosaurs lost teeth multiple times independently and exhibited great variation in toothrow distribution and rhamphotheca-like keratin structures. Here, we use rostral jawbone surface texture as a proxy for rostral keratin covering and phylogenetic comparative models to test for the influence of rostral keratin on toothrow distribution in Mesozoic dinosaurs. We find that the evolution of rostral keratin covering explains partial toothrow reduction but not jaw toothlessness. Toothrow reduction preceded the evolution of rostral keratin cover in theropods. Non-theropod dinosaurs evolved continuous toothrows despite evolving rostral keratin covers (e.g. some ornithischians and sauropodomorphs). We also show that rostral keratin covers did not significantly increase the evolutionary rate of tooth loss, which further delineates the antagonistic relationship between these structures. Our results suggest that the evolution of rostral keratin had a limited effect on suppressing tooth development. Independent changes in jaw development may have facilitated further tooth loss. Furthermore, the evolution of strong chemical digestion, a gizzard, and a dietary shift to omnivory or herbivory likely alleviated selective pressures for tooth development.
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    Origin of CO2 in Upper Devonian Duperow Formation and the Bakken Petroleum System at Kevin Dome, Northwest Montana
    (Elsevier BV, 2023-11) Adeniyi, E.O.; Tyne, R.L.; Barry, P.H.; Darrah, T.H.; Hubbard, M.S.; Myers, M.L.; Shaw, C.A.; Bowen, D.W.; Calavan, C.W.
    Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a key mitigation strategy in achieving global net-zero emissions. It is therefore essential to identify and characterize potential subsurface storage repositories. Natural CO2 accumulations provide an opportunity to understand the behavior of CO2 in the subsurface. Here, we investigate the source(s), migration, and storage of CO2 in the Upper Devonian Duperow Formation at Kevin Dome, northwest Montana, USA within the Bakken Petroleum System. We report, major gas, stable and noble gas isotopic compositions in bulk gas samples (n = 19) produced from nearby hydrocarbon-bearing reservoirs at Kevin Dome and compare with CO2 bearing fluid inclusions (n = 24) from the Duperow Formation. Using the same methods, bulk gas samples (n = 9) from the adjacent Ferguson Field, (Exshaw/Bakken Petroleum System) in southern Alberta, Canada, and fluid inclusions from the Sweetgrass Hills igneous complex (n = 2) were analyzed to understand CO2 generation and the subsequent processes affecting CO2 regionally. We find that CO2 in the Upper Devonian Duperow Formation is magmatic in origin, likely related to the nearby Sweetgrass Hills igneous complex intrusion (∼52 Ma), whereas CH4 and N2 gases are generated predominantly by thermogenic processes associated with hydrocarbon generation during burial. Since emplacement, most CO2 in the hydrocarbon-bearing reservoirs of the Bakken petroleum system at Kevin Dome (∼98%) and the Ferguson Field (∼82%) has subsequently been dissolved into the groundwater. We employ a solubility model to calculate minimum gas/water ratios in Kevin Dome and the Ferguson Field, which are consistent with more groundwater interaction and more dissolution at Kevin Dome. Understanding the subsurface processes affecting CO2 is critical for future CO2 storage site selection.
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    The patchwork governance of ecologically available water: A case study in the Upper Missouri Headwaters, Montana, United States
    (Wiley, 2023-09) Cravens, Amanda E.; Goolsby, Julia B.; Jedd, Theresa; Bathke, Deborah J.; Crausbay, Shelley; Cooper, Ashley E.; Dunham, Jason; Haigh, Tonya; Hall, Kimberly R.; Hayes, Michael J.; McEvoy, Jamie; Nelson, Rebecca L.; Poděbradská, Markéta; Ramirez, Aaron; Wickham, Elliot; Zoanni, Dionne
    Institutional authority and responsibility for allocating water to ecosystems (“ecologically available water” [EAW]) is spread across local, state, and federal agencies, which operate under a range of statutes, mandates, and planning processes. We use a case study of the Upper Missouri Headwaters Basin in southwestern Montana, United States, to illustrate this fragmented institutional landscape. Our goals are to (a) describe the patchwork of agencies and institutional actors whose intersecting authorities and actions influence the EAW in the study basin; (b) describe the range of governance mechanisms these agencies use, including laws, policies, administrative programs, and planning processes; and (c) assess the extent to which the collective governance regime creates gaps in responsibility. We find the water governance regime includes a range of nested mechanisms that in various ways facilitate or hinder the governance of EAW. We conclude the current multilevel governance regime leaves certain aspects of EAW unaddressed and does not adequately account for the interconnections between water in different parts of the ecosystem, creating integrative gaps. We suggest that more intentional and robust coordination could provide a means to address these gaps.
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    Increased whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) growth and defense under a warmer and regionally drier climate
    (Frontiers Media SA, 2023-03) Kichas, Nickolas E.; Pederson, Gregory T.; Hood, Sharon M.; Everett, Richard G.; McWethy, David B.
    Introduction: Tree defense characteristics play a crucial role in modulating conifer bark beetle interactions, and there is a growing body of literature investigating factors mediating tree growth and resin-based defenses in conifers. A subset of studies have looked at relationships between tree growth, resin duct morphology and climate; however, these studies are almost exclusively from lower elevation, moisture-limited systems. The relationship between resin ducts and climate in higher-elevation, energy-limited ecosystems is currently poorly understood. Methods: In this study, we: (1) evaluated the relationship between biological trends in tree growth, resin duct anatomy, and climatic variability and (2) determined if tree growth and resin duct morphology of whitebark pine, a high-elevation conifer of management concern, is constrained by climate and/or regional drought conditions. Results: We found that high-elevation whitebark pine trees growing in an energy-limited system experienced increased growth and defense under warmer and regionally drier conditions, with climate variables explaining a substantive proportion of variation (∼20–31%) in tree diameter growth and resin duct anatomy. Discussion: Our results suggest that whitebark pine growth and defense was historically limited by short growing seasons in high elevation environments; however, this relationship may change in the future with prolonged warming conditions.
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    Episodic Late Cretaceous to Neogene crustal thickness variation in southern Tibet
    (Wiley, 2023-10) Sundell, Kurt E.; Laskowski, Andrew K.; Howlett, Caden; Kapp, Paul; Ducea, Mihai; Chapman, James B.; Ding, Lin
    Recent advancements in quantitatively estimating the thickness of Earth's crust in the geologic past provide an opportunity to test hypotheses explaining the tectonic evolution of southern Tibet. Outstanding debate on southern Tibet's Cenozoic geological evolution is complicated by poorly understood Mesozoic tectonics. We present new U-Pb geochronology and trace element chemistry of detrital zircon from modern rivers draining the Gangdese Mountains in southern Tibet. Results are similar to recently published quantitative estimates of crustal thickness derived from intermediate-composition whole rock records and show ~30 km of crustal thinning from 90 to 70 Ma followed by thickening to near-modern values from 70 to 40 Ma. These results extend evidence of Late Cretaceous north–south extension along strike to the west by ~200 km, and support a tectonic model in which an east–west striking back-arc basin formed along Eurasia's southern margin during slab rollback, prior to terminal collision of India with Eurasia.
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    Kilometer-scale recumbent folding, tectonic attenuation, and rotational shear in the western Anaconda Range, southwestern Montana, USA
    (Geological Society of America, 2023-10) Neal, Bryce A.; Laskowski, Andrew K.; Lonn, Jeffrey D.; Burrell, William B.
    The Eocene Anaconda metamorphic core complex is the most recently documented metamorphic core complex in the North American Cordillera. While much work has focused on constraining the nature and timing of core complex extension, earlier deformation preserved in its footwall is not as well understood. The Anaconda metamorphic core complex footwall contains an anomalously thin, lower- to uppermost-amphibolite-facies section of Mesoproterozoic Belt Supergroup and Paleozoic metasedimentary strata. While the tectonic nature of this thinning is generally accepted, the mechanisms behind it remain enigmatic. Previous workers have hypothesized that footwall strata were attenuated along the upper limb of the Late Cretaceous Fishtrap recumbent anticline, a kilometer-scale, NW-vergent, recumbent fold exposed throughout the west-central metamorphic core complex footwall. New geologic mapping in the west-central Anaconda Range better constrains the nature and timing of tectonic attenuation in this structurally complex area. Two generations of folds were recognized: (1) F1 recumbent isoclines associated with the Fishtrap recumbent anticline and (2) F2 W-vergent asymmetric folds associated with map-scale N-plunging folds. F1 folds, axial planar S1 transposition fabrics, and bedding-parallel faults and shear zones boudinage, transpose, and omit strata of the Belt Supergroup. We suggest that the Fishtrap recumbent anticline tectonically attenuated the Belt Supergroup through Paleozoic section of the west-central Anaconda metamorphic core complex footwall, and we propose that it is a kilometer-scale, regionally significant structure. We further propose that the fold may have developed in response to rotational shear and sinistral transpression along the Lewis and Clark Line, which was further driven by accretion of outboard terranes along the western margin of North America during Late Cretaceous time.
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    Assessment of L-band InSAR snow estimation techniques over a shallow, heterogeneous prairie snowpack
    (Elsevier BV, 2023-10) Palomaki, Ross T.; Sproles, Eric A
    Snow water equivalent (SWE) is a critical input for weather, climate, and water resource management models at local to global scales. Despite its importance, global SWE measurements that are accurate, consistent, and at sufficiently high spatiotemporal resolutions are not currently available. L-band interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) techniques have been used to measure SWE at local to regional scales, and two upcoming L-band SAR satellite missions have renewed interest in these techniques to provide regular SWE measurements at the global scale. However, previous research demonstrating the capabilities of L-band InSAR-SWE measurement has been limited to mountain or tundra snowpack regimes. Here we examine the feasibility of applying the same techniques over a prairie snowpack, which are typically characterized by shallow snow depths (mean snow depth of 0.22 m in this study), exposed agricultural vegetation, and high spatial variability over short distances. Our study area in central Montana, USA (47.060, -109.951) was a validation site for NASA SnowEx 2021, as part of the UAVSAR snow timeseries. Airborne L-band SAR imagery was acquired by the UAVSAR platform while concurrent snow measurements were collected using uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV)-based LiDAR, UAV-based photogrammetry, and ground-based manual techniques. This validation dataset enables an investigation of the effects of sub-pixel snow cover heterogeneity and exposed agricultural vegetation stubble on SAR data and the resulting SWE estimations. Results based on repeated application of the Kolmogorov–Smirnov test show that UAVSAR VV phase change is sensitive to differences in snow cover but relatively unaffected by differences in agricultural stubble height. However, we did not find similarly definitive results when we used the same phase change data to estimate SWE. Although broad spatial patterns were similar in both LiDAR-derived and InSAR-derived SWE estimates, considerable differences in the two estimates were apparent in areas with large sub-pixel snow depth variability. Our results indicate that additional work is necessary to derive accurate SWE estimates in prairie environments. Regular measurements from L-band SAR satellites will provide an excellent opportunity to refine InSAR-based snow estimation techniques over shallow, heterogeneous snowpacks.
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    Tree-Ring Derived Avalanche Frequency and Climate Associations in a High-Latitude, Maritime Climate
    (Wiley, 2023-07) Peitzsch, E. H.; Hood, E.; Harley, J. R.; Stahle, D. K.; Kichas, N. E.; Wolken, G. J.
    Snow avalanches are a natural hazard in mountainous areas worldwide with severe impacts that include fatalities, damage to infrastructure, disruption to commerce, and landscape disturbance. Understanding long-term avalanche frequency patterns, and associated climate and weather influences, improves our understanding of how climate change may affect avalanche activity. We used dendrochronological techniques to evaluate the historical frequency of large magnitude avalanches (LMAs) in the high-latitude climate of southeast Alaska, United States. We collected 434 cross sections throughout six avalanche paths near Juneau, Alaska. This resulted in 2706 identified avalanche growth disturbances between 1720 and 2018, which allowed us to reconstruct 82 years with LMA activity across three sub-regions. By combining this tree-ring-derived avalanche data set with a suite of climate and atmospheric variables and applying a generalized linear model to fit a binomial regression, we found that February and March precipitation and the Oceanic Niño Index (ONI) were significant predictors of LMA activity in the study area. Specifically, LMA activity occurred during winters with substantial February and March precipitation and neutral or negative (cold) ONI values, while years not characterized by LMAs occur more frequently during warm winters (positive ONI values). Our examination of the climate-avalanche relationship in southeast Alaska sheds light on important climate variables and physical processes associated with LMA years. These results can be used to inform long-term infrastructure planning and avalanche mitigation operations in an urban area, such as Juneau, where critical infrastructure is subject to substantial avalanche hazard.
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    The egg-thief architect: experimental oviraptorosaur nesting physiology, the possibility of adult-mediated incubation, and the feasibility of indirect contact incubation
    (Cambridge University Press, 2023-08) Hogan, Jason D.
    Numerous, high-quality reproduction-related oviraptorosaur fossils have been described. However, oviraptorosaur-style nests are unknown among extant animals, and their curious construction makes nesting behavior difficult to interpret. Experiments were undertaken to better understand oviraptorosaur nesting strategies. A surrogate was constructed and placed atop mock-oviraptorosaur nests built from sand and 36 infertile emu eggs (as Macroolithus approximations) arranged according to the most current nest reconstructions. Thermometers, placed within each egg and throughout the experimental area, recorded energy flow from the surrogate dinosaur into the nesting microenvironment. One experiment examined a basic open nest warmed from above; the second, a fully buried clutch warmed from above; and the third, a nest open like the first but with heating elements (representing hindlimbs) extending down into the nest. It was found that egg temperatures in each scenario surpassed ambient temperatures without requiring excessive energy input. Final clutch temperatures were below most avian values, closer to crocodilian incubation, but are likely conservative, considering experimental parameters. These results may support the idea that an oviraptorosaur could use adult-generated energy to warm a clutch above ambient conditions. Additionally, egg tiers would be warmer and more uniform in temperature if heated by elements within the nest, such as hindlimbs, instead of solely from above. Results from the second experiment indicate that an endothermic adult could possibly warm a clutch fully buried beneath itself despite a barrier. Although not likely a behavior exhibited by oviraptorosaurs, such results suggest an important evolutionary step bridging guarded subterranean eggs and contact-incubated subaerial eggs.
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    Chthonic severance: dinosaur eggs of the Mesozoic, the significance of partially buried eggs and contact incubation precursors
    (The Royal Society, 2023-07) Hogan, Jason D.; Varricchio, David J.
    For most dinosaurs, clutches consisted of a single layer of spherical to sub-spherical, highly porous eggs that were probably fully buried. Both eggs and clutch form change drastically with pennaraptoran theropods, the clade that includes birds. Here, far less porous, more elongate eggs are arranged with additional complexity, and only partially buried. While partial egg burial seems to be effective for an extremely small group of modern birds, the behaviour's overall rarity complicates our understanding of Mesozoic analogies. Recent experimental examination of pennaraptoran nesting thermodynamics suggests that partial egg burial, combined with contact incubation, may be more efficacious than has been presumed. We propose that nest guarding behaviour by endothermic archosaurs may have led to an indirect form of contact incubation using metabolic energy to affect temperature change in a buried clutch through a barrier of sediment, which in turn may have selected for shallower clutch burial to increasingly benefit from adult-generated energy until partial egg exposure. Once partially exposed, continued selection pressure may have aided a transition to fully subaerial eggs. This hypothesis connects the presence of partially buried dinosaurian clutches with the transition from basal, crocodile-like nesting (buried clutches guarded by adults) to the dominant avian habit of contact incubating fully exposed eggs.
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    Public Water System Governance in Rural Montana, USA: A ‘Slow drip’ on Community Resilience
    (Informa UK Limited, 2023-05) Gansauer, Grete; Haggerty, Julia; Dunn, Jennifer
    Recent waves of U.S. federal waterworks investments aim to repair material as well as socioeconomic deficits. Yet a growing recognition of the central role of local capacity in successful water resources and infrastructure governance raises questions about the extent to which such investments will engender more resilient rural communities. Synthesizing resilience theory with the drinking water governance literature, we use qualitative methods to assess the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of public water system governance in a case study of six small towns in an agricultural region. We find that shortfalls in local social and economic capital constrain localities from adapting to environmental vulnerabilities, and that the current policy environment exacerbates—rather than ameliorates—tradeoffs between community capitals. In addition to funding increases for rural infrastructure deficits, this study implies that process reform in water quality compliance and financial assistance program delivery will also be needed to bolster rural community resilience.
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    Using High‐Resolution Satellite Imagery and Deep Learning to Track Dynamic Seasonality in Small Water Bodies
    (American Geophysical Union, 2023-04) Mullen, Andrew L.; Watts, Jennifer D.; Rogers, Brendan M.; Carroll, Mark L.; Elder, Clayton D.; Noomah, Jonas; Williams, Zachary; Caraballo‐Vega, Jordan A.; Bredder, Allison; Rickenbaugh, Eliza; Levenson, Eric; Cooley, Sarah W.; Hung, Jacqueline K. Y.; Fiske, Greg; Potter, Stefano; Yang, Yili; Miller, Charles E.; Natali, Susan M.; Douglas, Thomas A.; Kyzivat, Ethan D.
    Small water bodies (i.e., ponds; <0.01 km2) play an important role in Earth System processes, including carbon cycling and emissions of methane. Detection and monitoring of ponds using satellite imagery has been extremely difficult and many water maps are biased toward lakes (>0.01 km2). We leverage high-resolution (3 m) optical satellite imagery from Planet Labs and deep learning methods to map seasonal changes in pond and lake areal extent across four regions in Alaska. Our water maps indicate that changes in open water extent over the snow-free season are especially pronounced in ponds. To investigate potential impacts of seasonal changes in pond area on carbon emissions, we provide a case study of open water methane emission budgets using the new water maps. Our approach has widespread applications for water resources, habitat and land cover change assessments, wildlife management, risk assessments, and other biogeochemical modeling efforts.
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    Are We Recording? Putting Embayment Speedometry to the Test Using High Pressure‐Temperature Decompression Experiments
    (American Geophysical Union, 2023-06) Hosseini, Behnaz; Myers, Madison L.; Watkins, James M.; Harris, Megan A.
    Despite its increasing application to estimate magma decompression rates for explosive eruptions, the embayment speedometer has long awaited critical experimental evaluation. We present the first experimental results on the fidelity of natural quartz-hosted embayments in rhyolitic systems as recorders of magma decompression. We conducted two high pressure-temperature isobaric equilibrium experiments and 13 constant-rate, continuous isothermal decompression experiments in a cold-seal pressure vessel where we imposed rates from 0.005 to 0.05 MPa s−1 in both H2O-saturated and mixed-volatile (H2O + CO2)-saturated systems. In both equilibrium experiments, we successfully re-equilibrated embayment melt to new fluid compositions at 780°C and 150 MPa, confirming the ability of embayments to respond to and record changing environmental conditions. Of the 32 glassy embayments recovered, seven met the criteria previously established for successful geospeedometry and were thus analyzed for their volatile (H2O ± CO2) concentrations, with each producing a good model fit and recovering close to the imposed decompression rate. In one H2O-saturated experiment, modeling H2O concentration gradients in embayments from three separate crystals resulted in best-fit decompression rates ranging from 0.012 to 0.021 MPa s−1, in close agreement with the imposed rate (0.015 MPa s−1) and attesting to the reproducibility of the technique. For mixed-volatile experiments, we found that a slightly variable starting fluid composition (2.4–3.5 wt.% H2O at 150 MPa) resulted in good fits to both H2O + CO2 profiles. Overall our experiments provide confidence that the embayment is a robust recorder of constant-rate, continuous decompression, with the model successfully extracting experimental conditions from profiles representing nearly an order of magnitude variation (0.008–0.05 MPa s−1) in decompression rate.
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    Pre-eruptive rhyolite magma ascent rate is rapid and independent of eruption size: a case study from Ōkataina Volcanic Centre, Aotearoa New Zealand
    (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2023-03) Elms, Hannah C.; Myers, Madison L.; Nichols, Alexander R. L.; Wallace, Paul J.; Wilson, Colin J. N.; Barker, Simon J.; Charlier, Bruce L. A.
    Volatile measurements in mineral-hosted sealed melt inclusions, and open-ended embayments, have previously been used to study magma ascent dynamics in large rhyolitic eruptions. However, despite occurring more frequently, smaller-volume explosive events remain under-studied. We present magmatic volatile data from quartz-hosted melt inclusions and embayments for eight post-25.4 ka rhyolitic eruptions at Ōkataina Volcanic Centre, Aotearoa New Zealand. Seven originated from within the main caldera, and the other erupted from the associated Ōkareka Structural Embayment. Melt inclusions preserve volatile contents of 2.92–5.82 wt% H2O and 13–126 ppm CO2, indicating pre-eruptive storage depths of 4.5–7.4 km, with younger eruptions being more shallow. The lack of correlation between H2O, CO2, inclusion size or distance to the crystal rim suggests magma bodies experienced variable degrees of degassing during magma storage, with some amount of post-entrapment volatile modification prior to and concurrent with final magma ascent. Diffusion modelling of measured H2O gradients in melt embayments indicates ascent rates of 0.10–1.67 m.s−1 over time spans of 20–230 min for the intra-caldera events. In contrast, ascent rates for the eruption from the Ōkareka Structural Embayment may be more rapid, at 1.59–4.4 m.s−1 over a time span of 22–34 min. Our findings imply that the final, pre-eruptive magma movement towards the surface could be less than a few hours. Comparisons with published data for caldera-forming explosive events reveal no clear relationships between final ascent rate, eruption size or initial volatile content, implying that other factors besides eruption volume control rhyolite magma ascent.
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    Perceptions Among Backcountry Skiers During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Avalanche Safety and Backcountry Habits of New and Established Skiers
    (Elsevier BV, 2022-12) Valle, Esteban A.; Cobourn, Andrew P.; Trivitt, Spencer JH.; Hendrikx, Jordy; Johnson, Jerry D.; Fiore, David C.
    Introduction.The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic impacted the ski industry worldwide by closing or limiting access to ski resorts. Subsequently, anecdotal reports of increased backcountry use emerged in the press, with concerns of inexperienced skiers causing or having problems in the backcountry. This study attempted to quantify this and identify motivations for new backcountry skiers. Methods. Self-identified backcountry skiers and snowboarders (aged ≥18 y) in the United States and Canada completed an anonymous 29-question online survey distributed by regional avalanche centers, education providers, and skiing organizations (n=4792). Respondents were stratified by backcountry experience, defining “newcomers” who began backcountry skiing from 2019 to 2021, coincident with the COVID-19 pandemic. Percentages of ski days spent in the backcountry were compared before and during the COVID-19 pandemic using paired t-tests and across cohorts using repeated-measures analysis of variance. Avalanche education was compared using unpaired χ2 tests. Results. Of established skiers, 81% noticed more people in the backcountry and 27% reported increasing their own use. Participants reported spending 17% (95% CI, 15.8–17.9) more of their days in the backcountry during the COVID-19 pandemic, with newcomers increasing their time spent by 36% and established skiers increasing their time spent by 13% (P<0.0001). Of newcomers, 27% cited the COVID-19 pandemic as motivation to enter the backcountry and 24% lacked formal avalanche education, which is significantly higher than the 14% of established skiers (P<0.0001). Conclusions. Influenced by factors related to COVID-19, reported backcountry use increased during the pandemic. Newcomers had a lower level of avalanche education and less confidence in evaluating terrain. Because 80% of participants were recruited from avalanche safety or education websites, this likely underestimates skiers lacking avalanche awareness or education and is further limited by the nature of online surveys.
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    Aquatic Ecosystem Services Survey: Round Two Results
    (Montana State University, 2022-05) Gilbert, Ashlie; Kleindl, William; Church, Sarah P.
    Wetlands, streams, and floodplains (hereafter called aquatic systems) are an important resource for social and ecological wellbeing. Since the early 1990s, Federal policy has required a no overall net loss (NNL) of wetland area (i.e., aquatic systems), functions, and values in the United States (US). Past efforts to build assessment tools have focused primarily on wetland structure and function, and less on inherent services provided by aquatic ecosystems that are valued by people (hereafter referred to as ecosystem services (ES)). Moreover, there has been little effort to develop assessment tools that measure wetland services in a rapid and repeatable manner. Our intent with this research is to develop a framework and generalized methodology for the rapid assessment of ES provided by wetlands, streams, and their riparian buffers for use in permitting, compensatory mitigation, and preservation decisions. Moreover, we seek to understand aquatic systems decision-makers’ perceptions of planning and land use surrounding wetland protection and mitigation.
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    Aquatic Ecosystem Services Survey: Round One Results
    (Montana State University, 2021-04) Gilbert, Ashlie; Kleindl, William; Chruch, Sarah P.
    Wetlands, streams, and floodplains (hereafter called aquatic systems) are an important resource for social and ecological wellbeing. Since the early 1990s, Federal policy has required a no overall net loss (NNL) of wetland area (i.e. aquatic systems), functions, and values in the United States (US). Past efforts to build assessment tools have focused primarily on wetland structure and function, and less on inherent services provided by aquatic ecosystems that are valued by people (hereafter referred to as ecosystem services (ES)). Moreover, there has been little effort to develop assessment tools that measure wetland services in a rapid and repeatable manner. Our intent with this research is to develop a framework and generalized methodology for the rapid assessment of ES provided by wetlands, streams and their riparian buffers for use in permitting, compensatory mitigation, and preservation decisions. Moreover, we seek to understand aquatic systems decision-makers’ perceptions of planning and land use surrounding wetland protection and mitigation.
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    Microstructural and crystallographic evolution of palaeognath (Aves) eggshells
    (eLife Sciences Publications, Ltd, 2023-01) Choi, Seung; Hauber, Mark E.; Legendre, Lucas J.; Kim, Noe-Heon; Lee, Yuong-Nam; Varricchio, David J.
    The avian palaeognath phylogeny has been recently revised significantly due to the advancement of genome-wide comparative analyses and provides the opportunity to trace the evolution of the microstructure and crystallography of modern dinosaur eggshells. Here, eggshells of all major clades of Palaeognathae (including extinct taxa) and selected eggshells of Neognathae and non-avian dinosaurs are analysed with electron backscatter diffraction. Our results show the detailed microstructures and crystallographies of (previously) loosely categorized ostrich-, rhea-, and tinamou-style morphotypes of palaeognath eggshells. All rhea-style eggshell appears homologous, while respective ostrich-style and tinamou-style morphotypes are best interpreted as homoplastic morphologies (independently acquired). Ancestral state reconstruction and parsimony analysis additionally show that rhea-style eggshell represents the ancestral state of palaeognath eggshells both in microstructure and crystallography. The ornithological and palaeontological implications of the current study are not only helpful for the understanding of evolution of modern and extinct dinosaur eggshells, but also aid other disciplines where palaeognath eggshells provide useful archive for comparative contrasts (e.g. palaeoenvironmental reconstructions, geochronology, and zooarchaeology).
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